To be honest, I had expected that Freddy Adu would be returning to MLS sooner rather than later.
His signing by Benfica ended up as a series of loans to four clubs in various leagues, where he always seemed to be starting over. He was in need of stability.
This week, the rumors about Adu’s return were flying, only the destination appeared to be Chivas USA. Now we know the actual destination is Philadelphia, where the 22-year-old midfielder will be re-united with his first professional coach, Peter Nowak, who also had him on the 2008 Olympic Team.
Adu could be making his return to MLS Saturday when the Union host FC Dallas at PPL Park (8 p.m., 6abc).
Ironically, FC Dallas would have had Freddy back in 2004 had the league not arranged for a deal to be made so he could play for DC United.
Back then, Freddy Adu was a 14 year old “wonder kid” playing on a team with players twice his age, and then some. While everyone else on the team was most likely of voting age, this young phenom needed a ride to get to daily training.
A lot has changed since 2004 for Adu, so Philadelphia is not getting the overly-hyped yet untested kid that MLS fans saw in those growing years from 2004-07.
Instead, they are getting a still-young veteran who has had to experience the ups and downs of trying to find a club in Europe. They are getting a young player once considered the future of American soccer, whose stock proceeded to drop so much that he was never mentioned as a serious candidate for either the 2006 or 2010 World Cup.
The new edition of Freddy Adu has made a huge comeback on the national team level thanks to his performance in the recent Gold Cup. He was also chosen on the initial squad of 22 in Jurgen Klinsmann’s first friendly this past week vs Mexico. Although he didn’t play, he was at least named to the team.
For him to continue on the national team level, he has come to the right place. Peter Nowak gave him tough love in DC, which helped him become the player we see today. Both parties know each other, and both must be comfortable with each other, otherwise this deal does not happen.
So for Adu, coming to Philadelphia should be a good thing for him. He will be with his former coach, play in front of a packed stadium, and be a part of a playoff contender down the stretch.
With a multi-year deal he will also become a big part of this team’s future. He will not have to sell tickets here, like he might have had to in other MLS cities. He was brought here for one reason, and that is to help the offense.
As for the Union, this is what they will be getting:
- A creative attacking midfielder who can initiate or score
- A player who can break down a defense with his dribbling skills alone
- A player who can take free kicks and corner kicks, freeing players like Sebastian Le Toux and others from that responsibility
- A player, despite his youth, who can make others around him better. He has good field vision from his midfield position.
To me, it’s a win-win situation.
I was going to preview Union vs. FC Dallas with this column, but this is an incredible story — both soccer and cultural — that just took another intriguing turn.
Saturday begins a new chapter in the life of Freddy Adu.
One that could take him and the Union to greater heights this year and in the upcoming years.
It could also lead to a spot for him on the 2014 USA World Cup team.